"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
LE DAMNATION DE FAUST
1 p.m. Sunday, April 26
I'm not big on opera. My appreciation of the art form pretty much peaks at that cartoon version of Wagner's “Die Walkure” starring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd (Elmer sings: “Oh, Bwunhilda, you're so wovely.” Bugs: “Yes, I know it. I can't help it ...”). But I can seriously get down with some art about the Devil. Western society is completely weirded out by the idea of a personified incarnation of evil — a creature both enticing and horrible — so our depictions of Old Splitfoot are always entertaining. Though The Debil makes appearances in everything from Shakespeare to Nathaniel Hawthorne to blockbuster films, the tale of Faust — a man who wanted knowledge so badly that he sold his soul for it — is kind of the granddaddy of them all. In this avant-garde production by the New York Metropolitan Opera, live action is integrated with video as Faust strikes his bargain with Mephistopheles for a 21st century audience. With Marcello Giodani as Faust and John Relyca as the Devil.
7 p.m. Tuesday, April 28
8 p.m. Wednesday, April 29
I have a confession to make. I don't watch American Idol. Never have. On the few occasions I've tried to watch for the sake of seeing what all the fuss is about, I haven't … well … been able to see what all the fuss is about. To me, it looks a lot like jazzed-up karaoke, only with better lighting and a bigger crowd, and a British d-bag who gets his kicks — and millions and millions of dollars — telling people more talented than him that they suck. Sorry, I'd rather watch “Dukes of Hazzard” reruns. That said, the Televisionist would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to our Arkie Idol, Kris Allen of Conway, who — the Idol worshippers at the Times have informed me — is doing really, really well on the show. He's, like, in the tippy-top group, or heat, or bracket or something. I guess. What I do know is that online gambling sites like betUS.com are giving Allen 8.5-to-1 odds to win. Maybe if I bet something on him, I'll feel compelled to tune in and actually pay attention. Anyway: GO KRIS! I'm sure you'll do Arkansas proud.
FRONTLINE: THE RELEASED
9 p.m. Tuesday, April 28
If you're a denizen of the city — pretty much any city in America — you've probably had an encounter with one of the millions of mentally ill people who roam our country's streets. Some of them are perfectly harmless, but there are others who are anything but. For those few, prisons and jails can become something of a revolving door, with the mentally ill person returned again and again to society, never getting help, only to run afoul of the law again. For some, this cycle only ends when they do something dangerous, violent or murderous enough to be locked up or committed long term. In this special from the superb PBS series Frontline, documentary filmmakers explore the cycle of incarceration and release that many mentally ill Americans find themselves in. What they uncover is sobering: Even if the mentally ill receive counseling and medication while incarcerated, they are often released from prison with only a bus ticket, a few dollars walking money, and a two-week supply of their meds. Over two-thirds are back in jail within a year and a half.